For eight weeks now I have been researching and reading up on the topic of gender equality. As broad as this topic is, I have (only just) been able to (slightly) focus my efforts and grasp the areas that truly spark my interest such as the pay gap, child marriage and ultimately; women’s rights as human rights. Obviously these are enormous topics in themselves and my research barely scratched the surface but the results I found were shocking none the less. As the weeks rolled on and research propelled I continuously kept in mind that I really had to narrow these broad topics down to achievable solutions. To no avail was I able to land on one set problem until our studio tutorial in week six. As previously mentioned in posts eight and nine my research led to the discussion of how these gender equality topics (less pay, lack of emancipation and fewer rights) could be reflected in other ways. One such example was in the differing costs of gender specific items we use everyday, such as “razor cartridges and razors which cost more for women than men by an average of 11%.” (Hill, C. 2016)
INITIAL PROPOSAL //
From here my initial proposal was to create a generative system of design (that could also be an exhibition) within the supermarket to raise awareness of the up sell on products which are marketed towards a specific gender and as such they could alternatively be bought cheaper. This could be achieved through sale tags which are attached to the products, encouraging consumers to choose the product which is cheaper, regardless of its gender specificity. However I realised this particular angle involves a bit more of a mental shift in consumers to go from buying their pink razors they are o familiar with, to buying a gender specific “mens” razor just because it’s cheaper. Does a woman have to settle or change her standards because the market can’t provide sufficient products at the same rates for both sexes? This concept would not fairly communicate the issue I am viewing. My next concept was then to create an electronic billboard (and linked website) which tracks the purchase of gender specific products. This would highlight the price difference the person is paying as well as keep a tally of the days savings or spendings on gender specific products. I thought this concept would really highlight these differences to the audience.
I was unfortunately away for week sevens tutorial and as such did not get the chance to speak to a peer in my tutorial but I was able to discuss my proposals briefly with a fellow vis com student and my tutor in class today (week eight.) We realised my ideas were almost too specific that they weren’t really solving anything. For example, focusing on money isn’t relative as different stores are always going to offer different prices for items. Along with this, collecting the data to find the “average” would be quite difficult. This feedback helped in shaping my current concept as I realised I had to focus on something achievable that also, obviously, relates to an emergent area.
REVISED PROPOSAL //
Project Title // Blue is for boys ~ Pink is for girls. (TBC)
Practice Type // Data Driven Visualisation
The Issue // Products which are gender specific may appear harmless and increase optimism and ease when shopping but they also perpetuate the divide between men and women. This divide is one which is more then patterns, colours and shapes but also price. Researching into the divide of the market led me to further investigate how this can be extended to all aspects of life. Whilst focusing on the placement of products, their differences in price and conventional designs, I have also discovered how these stark contrasts appear in my everyday life. Gender stereotypes are all around us and whether we or not we are aware of them, they do effect our perception of people.
The Possible Change // Awareness of our implicit bias is paramount in effecting change towards gender inequality and stereotypes. Understanding the psyche and how certain ways society tell genders to behave and act as well as how well they may perform can affect your judgment calls and belief both in yourself and others. This could be detrimental to a majority of people who are unaware of such underlying ideals. An example includes the employment process of of orchestras. “As late as 1970, the top five orchestras in the U.S. had fewer than 5% women but by 1997 they were up to 25%” (Rice, C. 2013) A major change involved the use of blind auditions with a screen to conceal the identity of the candidate from the jury. Possible change could also be highlighted by showing the history of how stereotypes once were and have since changed. For example “The generally accepted rule was pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” (Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department)
The Design Action to support change // I intend to support this change through the design of a document which focus on encapsulating gender stereotypes. This book would not only document what society expects from either gender but also how those implicit expectations and bias impact the individuals. I see this document as a small square book (plus a great opportunity to revisit old briefs and improve upon) which contrasts girls versus boys and the gender stereotype of each being challenged. Colour would be its prime communicator along with photographs, to contrast how girls and boys are constantly divided within society and how this division of the sexes have negative consequences in so many different aspects of life. The stark contrast of imagery would be elevated with accompanying statics that shock the reader.
Hill, C. 2016, 6 times it’s more expensive to be a woman, Market Watch, viewed September 25th < http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-things-women-pay-more-for-than-men-2014-01-17>
Rice, C. 2013, How blind auditions help orchestras to eliminate gender bias, The Guardian, viewed September 25th <https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2013/oct/14/blind-auditions-orchestras-gender-bias>
Boulton, T. 2014, The Surprisingly recent time period, TodayIFoundOut, viewed September 25th < http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/10/pink-used-common-color-boys-blue-girls/>